The old saying “fighting like cats and dogs” isn’t true. If you are having a feline and a canine friend under your rooftop, you probably agree with me on this point. These two pets can peacefully coexist and interact with others as if they were very best friends. Is it good news or bad news to hear?
Well, it can be both. How adorable it is to picture the scene of your feline and canine pal squabbling over the rolling balls together, sharing lap spaces, snuggling in the same bedding and even vying for your attention. Romantic though it sounds, when it comes to sharing the same bowl of food, the matter is not that straightforward.
Before delving into the main details, please consider this quick question:
Do cats have a taste for dog foods?
Sharing things, especially foods, is considered as an expression of passionate love and care under the perception of we, human beings. But it is ironic to see domestic pets of different breeds do so as dog food tends to be typically tasteless and dull compared to typically rich-in-flavor cat meals.
In fact, a cat may never be tempted to sniff at a dog’s dish unless it is having the miserable munchies and vice versa. Unfortunately, under specific circumstances, the pet owner has to decide to treat their cats to dog foods. So can cats eat dog foods?
Unique dietary requirements in cats and dogs
Cats are obligate carnivores, whereas dogs are omnivores by nature. Therefore, the two friends have different nourishment requirements to grow and thrive.
Both plant and animal flesh can be a significant source of nutrients for dogs, which means they can digest all without experiencing intestinal blockage or stomach bug.
Unlike their four-legged siblings, cats are picky eater because they can only eat animal-based proteins to get sufficient energy for the daily physical activities throughout the day. Even if your furry friend seems lazy at times, she, in fact, has to burn a lot of calories during games and hunting. Lacking in protein will make her lethargic and powerless.
Also, the cat’s body is hyper-adapted to carnivorous meals to the point that most of the nutrition they get out of green plants is basically crude fiber. Compared to the amount of protein obtained, the intake of fats should be avoided as much as possible.
For a better understanding of the question “Can cat eat dog foods?”, let’s examine the ingredients in their food packages.
Compare feline canned food to canine canned food
Have you ever glanced at the ingredients list printed in the label of pet’s food can? I have. And perhaps you have either. For beginners, the ingredients found in canine food are by no means dangerous to the health of feline pals or they even provide as much nutrition as other foods would offer.
But don’t be fooled by the seemingly identical indexes and numbers there since what your feline needs for her holistic growth may not be acquired from dog food.
Statistically stated, the minimum amount of protein required by a dog food is 18 percent. But this is 8 percent less than the minimum needed for cat food, which is 26 percent. Not only the amount of protein supplied is less than necessary for cats but it may, no one knows, partly comes from plant sources, which will possibly fail to provide sufficient nutrients.
- Amino Acids
Animal-based proteins like meat and other animal flesh are made up of 23 types of amino acids, 11 of which will be ingested by cats to maintain their good health. On the contrary, dogs do not need all of them.
Let’s take taurine as an example. Raw meat, especially offal such as liver or heart can be an abundant source to obtain this type of amino acid from.
This element plays a vital role in the maintenance of the cat’s heart, retina, bile, and reproduction ability. Unfortunately, The dog’s body can self-synthesize taurine, but the cat’s body cannot.
Contrary to canine’s nutrition bag which is rich in vitamins and fiber, cat’s food is lower in fiber. But felines still need some extra vitamin A as their organs are not designed to metabolize it on their own.
Likewise, canine’s food contains a smaller amount of vitamin B, including niacin and thiamin and less folic acid compared to cats.
- Other essential elements
Besides some fundamental differences in the provision of food in two species, dog food has to contain higher concentrations of beta-carotene for the sake of canine’s proper development. This substance will later be converted into vitamin A and help restore weakened immune responses in aging dogs.
As for cats, an ingredient called arachidonic acid should be included in meals to guarantee healthy development.
Is it bad to feed a cat his four-legged sibling’s food?
You will feel relieved when I say that there is no serious problem if your cat happens to eat dog food. But that is not all I mean because a one-time bite of the dog food may not harm your little feline friend, yet the situation overturns when you make this long-term feeding.
Believe me or not, you should cast your eyes on the following consequences that may at worst happen when regular feeding of dog food to your cat is practiced.
- Inadequate nutrition base
This phenomenon is more severe than you may imagine. Why is it?
Cats rely on vitamins, protein, and healthy acids for survival. Since their little bodies cannot make those nutrients on their own, cats have to turn to its food supply for plenty of these supplements. Otherwise, they’ll get malnourished and prone to dangerous diseases.
Taurine, for example, is already mentioned as an essential acid for cats. This substance will be destroyed under the intense heat of cooking, which suggests that it is not ok for cats to eat from a cooked or kibble diet. Without taurine, felines may suffer from heart and respiratory problems, and even blindness.
- Digestion system impairment
This point is easy to understand as every digestion structure in a species is “tailor-made” for the intake of typical foods only.
Thus, letting a cat polish off dog food can weaken the cat’s digestive system and makes it more susceptible to the attack of parasites and tapeworms transmitted via fleas.
When a cat is given its favorite treats of a fresh, raw meat diet, its intestine reacts positively, and the environment within the bowel is uninhabitable to worms, salmonella as well.
- Crystal formation
Please don’t poorly feed your feline in case it has to come over and nibble at its canine friend’s food as this can lead to the internal environment conducive to the formation of urinary crystals and calculi little by little.
Bear in mind that the more alkaline urine is, the more potential it will be in triggering the crystal formation.
- Lack of moisture in food
The fully-developed receptors in a dog allow it to know whether its food is dry or not. If so, it can drink up.
However, a cat’s sense of dehydration is weak, making it unable to realize the dehydrating food and thus has to bear the consequences
As usual, the wet canned food for cats will offer enough moisture for the individual water intake requirements. In canned food of dogs, this feature is neglected.
Can we feed felines dog food in an emergency?
Of course, both you and I do hope that we will never have to face a situation so-called “emergency.”
But that’s life, and at times you may not have cat food available at hand. Probably, you are out for a trip to a remote area and realize there is no pet shop around. Or perhaps you simply forget to shop enough pet meals for your furball friend.
This is when you ponder whether cats can consume dog food. The answer is yes. Your feline may miss some essential nutrients, but dog food can, to a certain extent, meet the feline nutritional requirements, at least for the time being.
Alternative feeding is still better than starving. Still, remember that this feeding must only be temporary, not permanent.
Can cats eat dog food and vice versa?
A cat can have an occasional bite of dog food. So how about dog mate doing the same. To be honest, he had better not, for the sake of his health.
Dogs snaffling cat food run a higher risk of suffering more from obesity and gastrointestinal ailments than others. Either short or long-term consumption of cat foods for dogs can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and worse of all, pancreatitis.
A cat’s bite of doggie biscuit may do no harm, but it may when the case overturns.
Useful tips for pet owners
How to make alternative dog food nutritious for cats?
To convert a dog’s diet into a cat’s one, you simply have to add from 20 to 25% more meat protein so that your cat gets enough supplements for its optimal growth.
How to prevent a feline from mistakable eating of dog food?
- Use different bowls: Most pet owners tend to purchase for their feline and canine pet couple products, similar in design, shape, and size. This should be discouraged as the two friends can mistake others as their food, just like pet owners sometimes do when extracting food for their two pets.
- Feeding time: Dogs and cats are creatures of routine, so it is easy to make them acquainted with their specific feeding schedule so that the two friends only stick to their pre-set eating timetable.
- Place the bowls at different corners: Similarly, cats and dogs will learn to remember their own eating place. Thus, excuses like cats getting lost and coincidentally snacking on dog food are less possible.
- Praise and punishment: This method can be simply understood as the act of giving positive punishment when your cats get to the dog’s eating bowl. In return, if the cats behave as obedient obeyers, praise them with some special treats and be a bit indulgent towards them.
- Automatic feeder: It’s worth investing in this high-tech item if you desire. It works to let the bowl be open only to the right pet owner, as for the wrong pet coming close to it, it remains closed.
The joy of raising a dog and a cat in your sweet home is irresistible. But as their relationship sharpens over time, you may have to be on an alert about what they might share with each other.
Toys, beds, space can be no problem to worry. But can cats eat dog food?
I would say it is ok to do so, but regularly exchanging the diet of both two animals is ill-advised and should never pop up on your bucket list as a priority.